WINAMAC — Benjamin looks longingly at Caitlin from a distance on a recent sunny afternoon. He’s never had a lady of his own, but he’s in love with Caitlin.
But Benjamin will never get to be with Caitlin because she already has a partner of her own. So all Benjamin can do for now is sit and watch Caitlin with his hand resting on the metal mesh fence that separates them.
Benjamin and Caitlin are just two of the 16 baboons rescued from the pet trade and lab testing that now call the Peaceable Primate Sanctuary home. The sanctuary has been open for a little more than a year now in a rural area around Winamac, about 1 hour and 20 minutes southwest of South Bend.
The baboons are partly separated by species, which is why Caitlin and Benjamin aren’t together. Caitlin and her partner Gondwana are Red baboons, Benjamin is a Hamadryas. The two largest groups are made up of Olive baboons.
The baboons are also separated by which animals get along the best, because like humans, some baboons just don’t like each other.
The sanctuary was 16 years in the making, Director Scott Kubisch said. Kubisch was watching videos one day and came upon a video of a baboon in a small cage in a research lab, he said, so he thought there was something more he could do to help primates.
He decided on building a sanctuary, but at first he was thinking of rescuing chimpanzees. While chimps used to be a preferred choice for medical testing, Kubisch said, he found out that in recent years there are far more baboons being used.